*Just a little note that all the tests came back fine. I am dealing with negotiating some food issues and that will take a little time. I wrote this little piece when I was waiting on results and yea, maybe I'm not so good at waiting. And my mind wanders.
Even as I await the results of the test that will tell me if I will die early, I fight falling into cliche. Quickly the things I’ve dreamt of peacefully slip away. The African safari, spending an extended time on a Hawaiian beach, the many books and stories I want to write….. they quietly retreat and I don’t even feel sad for them. These were things to fill my life after the main act. My husband and children were always all I ever wanted. And I got them. The End.
Except I wasn’t quite done with the main act. There was more I wanted to do with them. Maybe not necessarily do, but I wanted them to know more. More about me, more about what I know, more about life.
I am glad I know my path. I am glad I won’t grow old alone- that has always been a fear. I will leave this world when it is largest for me. I feel a relief to know that I wasn’t lazy or worthless the last few months. The illness justifies all I’ve felt.
But I don’t want my children to remember me like this. It will get worse, but I don’t even want you to think back to now and think this is what your mother was like. I hate the fatigue that has taken over my life and prevented me from being the Mother I am in my mind. I need you to know all the things I wanted to be for you.
You won’t remember but Sally was a tiny baby and the older two were two and four years old and we were driving down the road and I saw the biggest turtle I have ever seen slowly making his way across the road. I made Daddy stop the car and I got you out to watch the turtle on his long slow journey across the road. Daddy was worried about traffic and safety, which is good - but I wanted you to witness the beauty and awe of this magnificent creature crossing the road. I wanted to always have time to slow down and wonder in awe with you.
I wanted you to remember the spring day it had been raining all day and we walked with umbrellas and raced leaves in the curbs on the streets. I want you to remember all the hours we spent swimming at the beach. I want you to remember bike rides. I want you to remember snuggling in the morning before the day starts. I want you to remember how we can just sit and laugh and laugh. And I definitely want you to remember that I can still do a cartwheel. I love the way Sally brags about that to her friends and their mothers.
Even if its impossible to remember all the conversations we’ve had, I want you to remember that we had conversations. We talked about hard things. All the times I’ve talked with you about your questions related to sex and your bodies - that was not easy for me. But I made myself do it. I would rather you ask me than ask the kids at school. That cool relaxed attitude I have? I am white knuckled on the inside…. but I don’t want you to know that. When you ask from the bottom of your heart why people don’t want gays and lesbians to be able to marry if it doesn’t even affect them…. it breaks my heart as you learn of the intolerance in this world, but it makes me proud that you are thinking about it. And when you want to buy condoms and open them to see what is in there? I calmly say, go ahead. While I’m dying inside. Not only because of the discomfort, but because how can you be old enough to ask? And I thank God for my little one who saves me from being so old when she says that those (condoms) are for removing the hair from unwanted places on your body. And I thank God for her big sister who told her this, trying to protect her little mind.
I want you to remember the feel of these conversations, because I always want you to have them. Stay open. Connect. Ask the hard questions. Try to find the answers, even though they don’t always come. I’m sorry I don’t know how mankind started. I don’t know which theory is correct. And yes, if Adam and Eve were the first couple, their kids would have had to reproduce together. And I’m so glad you would be overwhelmed if you were picked to be the first man on earth. That is a perspective I hadn’t entertained before. And never ever lose that empathy that allows you to think of things from perspectives other than your own.
I want you to remember our sunset picnics on the beach in Sanibel. I want you to remember the mountains of Tennessee. I want you to remember the intense stifling wet heat of Louisiana and Mississippi. I want you to remember skiing on the mountains in Colorado. But don’t lose sight of all the gifts close to where you are. Find the beautiful places close to your home, wherever that may be. Get fresh air; its always healing. Turn off the screens. Know yourself. Deeply. You will change. That is good. Learn how to soothe yourself. You will need it. Play music - it is the only activity that engages your entire brain at one time.
Remember the games we played. The fires we built. The hours we sweated and cried over homework. Remember when I tried being the Tiger Mom? Ha. Remember the time Daddy and me toilet papered your rooms for April Fools Day. Remember sneaking in my room and sleeping on the floor next to me. I secretly loved that. Remember when you were sick and throwing up all night - how we talked and snuggled and how I held your back and I washed your face with a cold wash cloth. Don’t remember it because it makes me look good but remember it so you can do that for your child.
But, dear babies, as hard as it is for me to write, please don’t only remember the good times. Please remember the hard times too. Please remember when I wasn’t perfect. Please remember when I yelled at you, when I ran out of patience, when I could take no more. Remember the times I had to walk away. Remember all the deadlines I missed. Remember when you had to wear dirty clothes to school because there were none clean. Remember wearing mismatched socks. Remember eating cereal for dinner. Remember when I cried and fought with Daddy.
Because when these things happen to you, I will not be here to remind you of them. I don’t want you to feel like a failure or a freak when you aren’t able to keep up. When you aren’t able to be super human. You see, my plan was to be here for that. I was going to tell you my stories of my shortfalls, to come to your aid and help when things get tough in real life. . Because they do. For everyone. Not many people will let you in on their pain, and you might feel lonely and depressed. You will make mistakes. You will lose your temper. And I want you to know thats OK, thats normal.
I wanted to share with you my faith. I haven’t done that enough. It is strong, and non judgemental. And always questioning. Maybe thats why I haven’t been able to share enough. I tried to give you the freedom to learn how you really feel and believe, what resonates within your own heart. I wish I had shared, wished I had known really, that my faith is much like that of my grandmothers and my father. They are the quiet, strong believers whose faith is between them and their God.
So, my little blessings, try to remember it all. Be gentle with yourselves when you can’t. Life is cake for dinner and life is brussel sprouts for dinner. The key is to have balance. And the other key is knowing you will never have balance. Grandma Patsy always told me that nothing too good or too bad lasts for too long. Remember this little nugget when things are tough. But, most importantly, remember it when things are going well. Practicing gratitude in the moment imprints happiness on your soul that can last a lifetime.